Archive | Here the Radio-Canada office in Beijing: the first two decades (1980-2001)

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Archives | This is the Radio-Canada office in Beijing: the first two decades (1980-2001)

Correspondent Don Murray opened the CBC/Radio-Canada bureau in Beijing in 1980, beginning the Canadian public broadcaster's more than 40-year journalistic presence in China.

On November 2, 2022, CBC/Radio-Canada announced the closure of its Beijing bureau, resulting in an interruption of our news coverage in China. For more than four decades, our correspondents have told us, in French and in English, about the changes experienced by Chinese society. Here is a selection of their reporting during the first two decades of the Canadian public broadcaster's presence in the most populous country on Earth.

“It was reluctantly that we finally made the decision to close our office. Radio-Canada is, alas, not the only one to experience significant difficulties in its journalistic mission in China. »

— Luce Julien and Ginette Viens, Director General of Information at Radio-Canada and Senior Director, Programming, News, Current Affairs and Deployment at Radio-Canada, November 2, 2022

It was in 1979 that CBC/Radio-Canada obtained authorization from the government of the People's Republic of China to open a bureau in Beijing.

This opening took place in a very unique way.

The office in Beijing is in fact the only one of all the offices of the State Corporation to have been negotiated through diplomatic with the government of a country.

Don Murray (1980-1983)

Journalist Don Murray will be the first CBC/Radio-Canada correspondent in Beijing.

CBC/Radio-Canada Beijing Senior Correspondent Don Murray discusses the challenges of working as a journalist in China.

In this excerpt filmed in the streets of Beijing with his wife Vera Murray, journalist Don Murray explains some of the difficulties related to the opening of the office in the Chinese capital .

In the fall of 1980, when he presented his first reports, the CBC/Radio-Canada correspondent observed a country that was at a turning point in its history.

La Cultural Revolution, this period of ideological radicalization which swept over China from 1966, has been relegated to oblivion.

A program of political reforms and economic opening, which aim to modernize China, replaced it.

As a correspondent in Beijing, Don Murray witnesses the great changes in China that follow the modernization policies of the Chinese Communist Party.

August 17, 1981, in a report for the Ce soi news bulletinr, Don Murray sees some surprising effects of this modernization policy.

The correspondent visited the city of Shanghai. He discovers there that the Chinese communist state is now encouraging the rehabilitation of the capitalist entrepreneurs who dominated the Chinese economy before 1949.

These have recovered their wealth and are now working for the State to ensure its development.

Jean-François Lépine (1983-1986)

Report by correspondent Jean-François Lépine on Deng Xiaoping's efforts to ensure the sustainability of his political and economic reforms.

Journalist Jean-François Lépine replaced Don Murray as correspondent in January 1983. He witnessed the acceleration of political and economic reforms in China.

On September 15, 1985, the correspondent in Beijing presents to the Téléjournal an account of the efforts made by the de facto Chinese number one, Deng Xiaoping, to ensure the continuity of his program and also his succession.

The journalist notes that there is resistance to Deng Xiaoping's desire to change the guard, but foresees that the transition will take place as the old leader envisions.

Tom Kennedy (1986-1988)

Journalist Tom Kennedy becomes third correspondent in Beijing in July 1986.

Report by correspondent Tom Kennedy on road traffic problems in the Chinese capital.

On November 23, 1987, he presented a report to Téléjournal which describes in a concrete impact of economic modernization on Chinese society.

Tom Kennedy explains that, in the Chinese capital, traffic is proving increasingly difficult. The number of bicycles and cars has doubled in seven years.

The Beijing authorities are trying to impose road checks. But it is the behavior of Chinese drivers, notes the correspondent, which will also have to change for the situation to improve.

Georges Tremel (1989-1990)

Journalist Georges Tremel replaced Tom Kennedy in February 1989. He arrived in China when the country was going to experience political events in the coming months of paramount importance.

In April 1989, a movement emerged demanding an end to corruption and the democratization of China. This movement will occupy Tiananmen Square in Beijing, one of the most symbolic places in the whole country.

Report by correspondent Georges Tremel on the protest movement in Tiananmen Square, a few days before the brutal crackdown by the Chinese authorities.

On May 30, 1989, the journalist reported to Telejournal on the extent of the protest movement in Tiananmen Square.

Protesters brought a statue there, called the Goddess of Democracy, which resembles the New York Statue of Liberty.

Georges Tremel points out that the movement is profiting from what seems to be a flutter within the communist government and the military.

A few days later, our correspondent in Beijing, like the rest of the world, will see the brutal response of the Chinese authorities.

On June 4, 1989, the army intervenes and suppresses the protesters, causing a massacre in which a large number of civilian victims perished. This repression put an end to hopes of democratization in China.

Victim of a serious illness, Georges Tremel had to leave China in the fall of 1990.

< h3 class="sc-1vaxh1e-2 hbmeGc editorial">Patrick Brown (1990-1996)

In November 1990, journalist Patrick Brown officially became CBC/Radio-Canada's correspondent in Beijing. He then began a first term as a correspondent in China, and would resume this role from 2003 to 2006.

Correspondent Patrick Brown will work in the Beijing bureau for two terms, from 1990 to 1996 and from 2003 to 2006.

On December 15, 1990, he presented to Téléjournal a report from the village of Xiao Ji in Hunan province.

There, the inhabitants apply with great success the methods recommended by the Chinese Communist Party, particularly in agriculture .

The people of Xiao Ji have known nothing but wealth ever since.

Villagers operate half a dozen factories and build luxurious housing that has little to do with the cramped homes in which the vast majority of Chinese live.

These exceptional living conditions, observes Patrick Brown, are the envy of other Chinese who visit the place. Many come to explore this village where, unlike the rest of the world, communism works.

Raymond Saint-Pierre (1996-2001)

Journalist Raymond Saint-Pierre replaced Patrick Brown in November 1996.

Report by correspondent Raymond Saint-Pierre on the Chinese government's migration policy that is changing the face of Tibet.

On May 27, 1999, Le Téléjournal/Le Point broadcast a report that the correspondent made while traveling to Tibet.

Raymond Saint-Pierre observes the deep changes that Beijing is inflicting on this remote province and forcibly integrated into Chinese territory.

Human rights associations conclude that the phenomenon is neither more nor less than an invasion executed to weaken the nationalism of the Tibetans.

This analysis is strongly disputed by the Chinese authorities, is told Raymond Saint-Pierre.

The correspondent still wishes to quote in conclusion the words of the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, the Dalai -lama, who compares the policy imposed by Beijing to genocide.

In 2001, Raymond Saint-Pierre left China. Céline Galipeau replaced him in September 2001.

The new correspondent will focus on the many economic, political and social issues that accompany the metamorphosis of China.

The beginning of Céline Galipeau's mandate also inaugurates two decades of coverage by the CBC/Radio-Canada office of the many changes that are transforming Chinese society.

Also read: This is the Radio-Canada office in Beijing: the two decades (2001-2022)

Radio-Canada correspondents in China

  • Don Murray (1980- 1983)
  • Jean-François Lépine (1983-1986)
  • Tom Kennedy (1986-1988)
  • George Tremel (1989-1990)
  • Patrick Brown (1990-1996 and 2003-2006)
  • Raymond St-Pierre (1996-2001)
  • Céline Galipeau (2001-2003)
  • Michel Cormier (2006-2010)
  • Catherine Mercier (2011-2013)
  • Yvan Côté (2013-2016)
  • Anyck Béraud (2016-2020)
  • Philippe Leblanc (2020-202 2)

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